Message from the Supreme Epopt of Upper Tonga
De nada. You are welcome.
The Religion the Almighty & Me Works out Betwixt us
multi-undisciplinary circumnavelgazing around the whole existentialada!
with • Neotraditional Retrofuturism • Mental Gymgnostics • Verticalesthenics • Dilettantric Yoga • Flaming Homilies • Leftwing Ridiculism • Freevangelical Pundamentalism • Advanced Leisure Studies • Libation Theology • Jehovial Witticisms
The Cosmos is our school, The Intellect our Faculty, Truth the first Principal
De nada. You are welcome.
r --> f <-- v
In this schematic r stands for Reason, f for feeling, and v for value: "The object of knowledge, in so much as it interests us (v), evokes a state of feeling (f) that conditions the capacity for knowledge (r)." (I prefer 'sensibility' to feeling.)
With all due respect, I think we can do a little better than this, although I don't know whether I will be able to depict it in a single cosmograph.
First of all, we need to start with O. From O there is a series of declensions (↓) leading to ʘ, (¶), (+), (•), •••(•)•••, (ø), and the outskirts of Ø. Thus, at one end we have the Absoute, the One, the plenum of goodness, O, while at the other end we have the absolutely relative, the løgøs, the nihil of nihilism, Ø. Man is capable of inhabiting any station between these poles.
(That was rude. It just occurred to me that people who have never read the manifestivus will have no idea what those pneumaticons refer to; let's just say the beatific vision, or atman; the intellect, or nous; the vertically and horizontally integrated self; the ego; the fragmented ego riddled with mind parasites; and MSNBC.)
We would then need a hierarchy of horizontal arrows between world ( ) and man (•), signifying the spectrum of -ologies that spreads out from the Logos, as when light hits a prism: physics, biology, neurology, psychology, etc.
There is also a paradigmatic science appropriate to each level, for example, metaphysics vis-a-vis O and physics vis-a-vis ( ).
Extending further down, we could say that contemporary liberalism is the science of Ø. It draws out all the nasty implications and consequences of living in an absolutely relativistic and therefore meaningless world, where essences (including the human individual) are impossible. In the end, their imperfect nonsense always adds up to ‰, or the "bad infinite."
As we've said before, a communist or fascist is just a leftist with the absolute courage of his convictions, willing to go all the way down the infrahuman heilhole without pulling any punches, and dragging everyone else along with him.
Coincidentally, I read something along these lines just yesterday in Pieper's book on The Concept of Sin. You could say that mortal sin (the unforgivable kind) involves willfully turning from O and instead being oriented to Ø
(And if a certain reader's understandable confusion is an indication, Pieper means "unforgivable" in the normal course of events, absent a rather extreme and unprecedented intervention on the part of the Creator combined with the appropriate response on the part of the mortal sinner, which will naturally involve a great deal of pain followed by a lifetime of efforts at re-conciliation toward a hoped-for absolution; this effort does not imply justification by man, but rather, is a spontaneous reflection of a true con-version, re-pentance, and metanoia; but to simply assume forgiveness is itself a kind of unforgivable hubris).
Thus, we cannot necessarily judge individual sins in a kind of hierarchy of severity, as does the positive law, because the identical act takes on a very different meaning if committed with full consciousness of rejecting O and embracing Ø.
For Pieper, this is why we must withhold ultimate judgment, because we simply do not have access to the state of the person's soul when committing this or that sin.
Nietzsche was the most articulate spokes(ø) for Ø, but in the end, he was just a big talker, and there is no evidence that he actually embodied the principles he espoused. He said, for example, "I rejoice in great sin as my great consolation!," but all evidence suggests that his personal life was rather dull and uneventful.
Nietzsche just got a pneumatic kick out of stirring things up via projection into his readers, and was therefore a kind of prototype of today's academics who are so adept at tearing down what it took centuries to build, and then watching as others suffer the consequences of their follies.
For example, black culture lies in ruins because of the toxic ideas of leftist pinheads with lifetime employment. The left couldn't care less about its millions of victims.
O is the ultimate nonlocal Order of things, and is the Reason why we have a cosmos to begin with (i.e., a local order). Pieper notes that the soul falls into disorder as a consequence of sin, which again comes down to turning away from O, which is the nonlocal source and goal (alpha and omega) of the soul's order.
Therefore, sin "establishes itself as pointless, literally relationless activity... sin lacks the element of being ordered to a goal."
But the person, in essence, is always in relationship, as a terrestrial consequence of the Trinity. Therefore, that other great spokes(ø) for Ø, Sartre, claims that "hell is other people" -- which you might say is a consequence of a loveless (because radically monadic) cosmos.
The opposite -- and correct -- sentiment is related in The Brothers Karamazov, when a character asks, "what is hell? I think it is the pain of no longer being able to love."
Pieper might well be describing our orientation to O, the Great Attractor, when he observes that "the inclination of nature is the hidden gravitational pull that is active in each individual regulation of the will. It is the fundamental energy by virtue of which human existence presses toward its intended goal."
Thus it also accounts for evolution, meaning that "we are born not as static entities but as unfinished products, a 'rough draft' whose realization is demanded by that same nature 'by virtue of creation.'" (As we've said before, metaphysical Darwinism is the very opposite of evolution, since it denies any telos to account for meaningful or progressive change.)
Pieper raises the subtle point that "whoever does wrong can never be completely at one with himself." This is perfectly clear if O is the source of oneness, and if sin involves turning from O.
Therefore, sin always redounds to a condition of •••(•)•••, of a self riven by fragmentation.
Conversely, peace and tranquility are subjective byproducts of at-one-ment. This also explains why we can never match the tireless but empty "activism" of the unhappy left. The evil is in their principles, and therefore poisons any consequences a priori.
To put it colloquially: no, we don't actually have to pass the bill to find out what's in it, so long as we know it was made by the skeevy hands of the left. Or in other words, it's pointless to wash your hands in a muddy river.
So -- speaking of Obamacare -- sin is "a kind of disorder... that brings disorder in its wake."
Pieper is careful to avoid the existentialist's error of equating our freedom with the nothingness of Ø. Nor is evil simply an inevitable consequence of our freedom, or we couldn't say that God is the God of liberty.
Rather, for Pieper, it has to do with the residue of nothingness, so to speak, that characterizes our ontological situation. That is to say, "descent from nothing is inherent in every creature," and this is "the deepest ground for man's capacity for sin." Nothing is as nothing does, I guess.
Ironically, this very much comports with Freud's postulate of a death instinct, thanatos, in dialectic with the life instinct, eros. But it also reminds me of that crack about the Father of Lies. When he lies, he speaks his native language, i.e., the language of Ø. Therefore, only satan can be the perfectly consistent liar, one who is even "at one with himself" as a result of turning from O.
Conversely, "whoever reflects on the phenomenon of human failing, keeping his mind open to all its aspects, can expect that the suprarational dimension of the object will finally emerge onto view." O is always situated just over this suprarational horizon, so be good and know that I AM.
Not sure whether I'll be posting in the next couple of weeks. Only if I feel like it, I guess.
In one of his snippy moods -- like Jefferson, he was intellectually labile -- Wittgenstein said "whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." But different people are qualified to speak of different things, based upon their sensitivity to them.
This is what Giussani means by genius, which refers to the "knack" we have for certain subjects. Genius "needs only a clue to intuit the solution to the problem, while everyone else has to work laboriously through every step."
So we should declare -- for example, to the loudmouthed atheist -- "whereof you cannot speak, you should really just shutup. Believe it or not, no living person cares about what you haven't experienced, nor about the limits of your sensibilities."
There are a multitude of things about which I express no opinion, because it's none of my isness. It takes all kinds to make a cosmos, and we are all built to respond to different frequencies and vibrations.
One of the great tragedies in life is never discovering the Thing that speaks to us in this cosmically intimate way -- that for which we are gifted. But my thing isn't necessarily anyone else's thing. Here you no doubt detect the strands of my neohippie DNA: do your own thing, which is to say, become who you are, an individual.
The educational establishment, the media, the state -- the purpose of each is to drive a wedge between you and your Thing, because it is impossible to control 300 million individuals. It's much easier if everyone is the same, or is at least easily sorted into racial, sexual, and socioeconomic categories.
This is why it's so much easier for a Democrat to design a campaign. For the left, if you're black, or female, or hispanic, that's all you are, so that's all they need to know about you. "Your skin color, your failure to master english, your naughty bits, that's your Thing. And we respect that."
Importantly, this gift we have for intuiting an aspect of reality in a flash is not "unreasonable." The genius of which Giussani speaks bypasses linear reasoning and cannot necessarily articulate the steps it took to reach a conclusion. It sees the totality in an instant, and is thereby transrational, not irrational.
Yesterday we spoke of the space that opens out between human energy and a presence. This human energy is what we call the soul, while the presence can be anything from physical sensations, to interpersonal cues, to humor and wit, to aesthetic sensibility, to religious insights (and much more besides).
"[S]omething always has an impact on the individual's sphere of experience." The presence from whatever dimension "penetrates one's personal experience," which creates a certain creative response in us (I won't say "reaction," because that is too mechanical).
Now, different presences are of different magnitudes. I'm thinking, for example, of the first time I "fell in love" -- or whatever it was. The point is, whatever it was, it was an incredibly powerful presence.
Really, it was like being inundated in an emotional runaround tsunami. I was clearly in the presence of this Other, and yet, how could this Other be anything other than me? (I'm not referring here to the other person, but the Other state of being into which I found myself plunged.)
Now, the same thing routinely occurs with regard to the spiritual dimension. That is to say, we respond to the presence of this ultimate Other with a jarring (?!) or sacred WTF. We then give it a name -- God, for example -- but just like the teenage experience alluded to above, it takes two to Tonga -- in this case, the simultaneous presence of the Presence and of the Religious Sense.
I might add that to be repelled by religion is equally a state of the soul, except a reactionary one. It is always a secondary, not primary, experience. If they just cut out the middle man, they could be religious, like everyone else.
We are all familiar with Blake's wise crack about seeing God in a grain of sand or some blades of grass we'd like to buy from him. "Depending upon the measure of the individual's human vivacity, anything whatsoever that enters his personal horizon... moves him, touches him, provokes a reaction."
What is especially shocking is how specific the feeling can be. I would guess that english words haven't yet been invented for most of these -- for example, l'esprit d'escalier.
I'm just free associating here, as usual, but it occurs to me that a Christian would posit Jesus as having possessed the maximum "human energy" alluded to above. If we are correct, then he should reflect a maximum degree of sensitivity to every degree and dimension of existence. In any event, it's good to have an ideal, an archetype to shoot for -- if not Jesus, then at least someone more alive than you.
In contrast to Jesus, "If someone has a narrow mind and a small, mean heart, he will find much less value in the world around him than a person who has a great soul, who is vivacious." These people are boring in the extreme.
The reason they are boring is that they are less "alive." That is to say, aliveness is precisely this openness to everything. Therefore, when Jesus speaks of a more abundant life, I'm pretty sure this is what he's talking about.
An equivalent word would be passion -- or let us say "passionate engagement," to distinguish it from mere ungoverned life force.
As Giussani writes, "the more nature arouses my interest in something, the more it makes me curious, gives me the need and passion to know that thing.... Indeed, as soon as nature endows me with an interest in an object, it conditions my capacity to know it by the feeling that is produced." To love it is to know it (although the knowledge will increase as a result of the passionate engagement).
To summarize the nub of the gist of the upshot of the bottom line of the whole existentialada: "if a certain thing does not interest me, then I do not look at it; if I do not look at it, then I cannot know it. In order to know it, I need to give my attention to it."
So "the centre of the problem is really a proper position of the heart, a correct attitude, a feeling in its place, a morality."
And let the dead bury the tenured.
This is one of the tasks Giussani sets for himself. While the problem has become more visible in the post-WW2 cultural climate, and more generally with modernity, it has actually been an issue from the start, one that Jesus was clearly aware of (more on which as we proceed).
One reason it's an issue is that it applies to any discipline I can think of, in which the living, uncontainable truth is eventually contained and cut down to size. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, since we do need a paradigm in order to situate any fact we encounter, whether scientific, psychological, or religious. In a way, a fact is already a theory.
But paradigms can quickly become procrustean beds, cutting off inconvenient facts in order to preserve the theory, so that what is seen is ideology, not reality.
In the secular west ideology has replaced the Reason (as discussed in yesterday's post), so that "instead of learning from reality and all its aspects and building on it, man seeks to manipulate reality according to coherent schemes fabricated by the intellect" (LG).
Thus, instead of reality speaking to man, man just yells at reality, like a crazy street person bellowing at a shop window. It reminds me of those union thugs who refuse to accept the principle of supply and demand, and therefore want to beat up those who do.
But when has the left been any different? The left cannot exist without the threat of violence, either explicit or implicit. In contrast, no one has to force me to be free.
Ideology quickly devolves -- or mutates -- into ideolatry, a word I apparently just coined, combining ideology and idolatry. Ideology is the new graven image, and like all graven images, it is full of magic. There are magical incantations for cleansing sin and eliminating guilt (e.g., "diversity"), for denying sexual conflict while unconsciously acting it out ("feminism"), for maintaining intellectual sanctity ("global warming"), and countless others.
Really, like carbon emission trading, it's one big racket of psychic transactions between victims and bullies, which results in the self-styled victims becoming bullies, as in Michigan.
But in reality, the modern left revolves around an inversion of the Christian idea of poverty of spirit, so that instead of the meek inheriting the earth, the left grants itself permission to steal the earth on behalf of its meek victims du jour. Which is why Obama -- a deeply Christian man who learned his theology at the knee of the Rrrrrrrrreverend Wright -- refuses to condemn those poor and meek union goons.
In the foreword, the author writes of how Giussani is concerned with "the risks of slipping into merely formal adhesion" to Christianity, reducing it to a "merely practical and exterior practice," no longer responding to and engaging with the deepest foundation of the human person, i.e., the religious sense and all it implies.
The central problematic for Giussani is one we have discussed on many occasions, i.e., the diminution of the human spirit to fit the ideology, rather than expanding it in order to conform to reality: the "modern mentality reduces reason to a series of categories into which reality is forced to enter. What cannot be forced into these categories is defined as irrrational."
But Reason, properly understood, is simply open engagement with O, on every level: "If reason is faithful to its original dynamism of openness to the totality of reality, it recognizes the existence of this ultimate, mysterious level of reality. But it cannot pretend with its own forces to know 'Who' the Mystery may be" (Stafford).
Exactly. Ironically -- or orthoparadoxically -- the unambiguous affirmation of the existence -- or presence -- of O is as precise a truth as it is possible for the human being to know. Indeed, there is nothing we can know with more certainty than that O is. It is where we must start our adventure of consciousness, because it is where our Reason begins and where it ends.
In other words, O is the first principle which we are always moving from and moving toward. It is to the human mind what light is to the eyes. Light doesn't show us anything in particular, nor is it even visible. Rather, it just illuminates everything else.
As we said, we cannot directly know the Who or what of this ultimate Mystery. Unless the Mystery takes it upon itSelf to not just anonymously enter the stream of time, but to involve itself in human history.
Again, what we call salvation history is this leap of faith -- not just ours, but the prior leap of O, if it can be expressed in this way. It reminds me of a parent who leaps into a burning building to save his child. And God so loved the world...
In this context, all the talk of sin and ransom and justification is quite secondary. Rather, I've got to do something, now! There are seven billion children in that house! You pinheads can argue about the theology later!
So God "responds to a human need" (LG), even if so many of us are so beside ourselves in ideology that we are no longer aware of the need.
What I would like to propose is that, just as there is O, there is a human capacity to perceive, intuit, apprehend, or "receive" it. Giussani calls it the "religious sense," but I just call it (¶). This way you don't have to get into religious debates with the narrowsouled bigot who regards religion as toxic.
Just as one cannot not know of the presence of O, the fact that we know of O implies a Knower. This Knower we call (¶).
So the human journey may ultimately be reduced -- or expanded -- to the endless dynamic of O <--> (¶). This will be obvious except to those for whom it isn't at all obvious. But once they think about it, they'll see that I'm right.
Just as in any other human endeavor, the object determines the method of research. Realism dictates that our knowledge "be imposed by the object." I mean, obvious, right?
For example, if you're going to buy a present for the wife, you get her what she wants, not what you want. So you have to be open to the hints and clues being transmitted by the object:
"[K]nowledge is the encounter between human energy and a presence. It is an event where the energy of human knowledge is assimilated to the object" (LG).
Say it again: an encounter between Human Energy and a Presence. This Presence is O. The Human Energy is you.
There is another way. Or, I would say that there is One Way but a multitude of alternatives. This multitude comes under the heading of Ø. It stands for the infinite variety of ways man can be fundamentally wrong.
Even so, it is a valid point of view if there is no Truth and therefore no Way, i.e., for the true relativist who has the courage of his absence of convictions -- not the mealy mouthed modern leftist who just wants your stuff without having to pay for it, but the real deal who wouldn't waste a moment trying to make the world "better" by ridding it of religion. Rather, a genuine anarchist -- or philosophical sociopath -- proceeds straight to hedonism and the will to power.
Ø equates to cosmic anarchy, and Giussani concedes that it "constitutes one of the great and fascinating temptations of human thought. As I see it, only two types of men capture entirely the grandeur of the human being: the anarchist and the authentically religious man" -- although the former "is as deceitful as it is attractive."
In short, we are either oriented to the Infinite and Absolute; or we can pretend to be it. We can never be O (while always becoming it). We can, however, be Ø. But it's not even a real Ø, since Ø is what we were before God brought us out of Ø. Therefore, the anarchist is really just a poseur, a cosmic reactionary, an anti-O.
To be continued....
Spiritual development is coterminous with the heightening or deepening or perfecting of this sensibility.
I prefer the word "sensibility," because it has broader connotations; to merely sense something doesn't necessarily imply understanding. We share the same senses as any rank and foul person, but we do not share the same sensibilities, to put it mildly.
Sensibility is "acuteness of feeling" or "responsive feeling toward something." Not only is it a "refined sensitiveness," but it is reciprocal, involving both perceiving and responding to the more subtle dimension it discloses.
As our senses relate to material phenomena of varying degrees of subtlety, our spiritual sensibility relates to O (which, like the natural world, also manifests in a hierarchy of intelligibile degrees).
As the foreword to the book makes clear, in order to understand anything, man is drawn out of himself. This is summarized in Giussani's reminder that the method of research is imposed by the object.
All ideologues forget this dictum, and end up superimposing their own ideas, theories, and sensibilities over the object -- and ultimately over man and the world. Which only results in the impossibility of discovering either man or world (both of which emanate from O).
We agree with the better sort of scholastic of the High Middle Ages that: all that exists is true. Sounds uncontroversial, but in this post-Kantian world it is considered flatly false, not because it is a tautology but because this thing called "reality" is not reachable by human beings.
Note that with this first Big Lie under our belt, we can safely ignore the notion that the method of research must be imposed by the object, because there are no objects, only the projection of subjective human constructs. Reality has been reduced to perception. Thus, "the opposite of transcendental truth" is "a dream mistaken for reality." Except it quickly turns into a nightmare.
To paraphrase the perspicacious Pieper, the Way of the Tenured doesn't even succeed in opening up any interesting dead ends, for which reason we call it a blind nul de slack.
Yesterday we had a commenter with a radically different sensibility to ours, so perhaps be can teach us something about what has gone so dreadfully wrong in such a person. He begins with the observation that "Christianity is based on the presumption that human beings are inherently separate from the Living Divine Reality, from the World Process, and from each other."
Now, I do not call this a "presumption." If it is a presumption, then we are doing exactly what the ideologue does in projecting his thoughts onto the world.
In my case, I do not presume that I am inherently separate from the Divine Living Reality.
No, I rechecked this morning and discovered once again that there is a... call it an orthoparadoxical intimate-distance between us, and that I am not He (even though his simultaneous immanence implies that I can be nothing but).
I also rediscovered -- to my great relief -- that I was separate from my wife and child, because I had to roust both from bed, and each of them was "resistant," so to speak, as if they were independent objects beyond my direct control.
To put it another way, if they weren't independent from me, my life would be, yes, easier, but definitely poorer, because there would be no one to love but me, and that gets old pretty fast.
(Relative) separation is precisely what creates the possibility of love; except I would put it inversely and say that since love Is, distinction must Be. The alternative is a florid case of pathological cosmic narcissism.
Besides, I personally like the male-female and adult-child polarities. I find them more interesting than the leftist alternative looniverse of adultolescent shemales and femen.
Mr. Froth continues: "The fiction of separateness, and the denial of the universal characteristic of prior unity, is a mind-based illusion, a lie, a terribly deluding force, and a profoundly and darkly negative act."
Where have we heard this before? Yes, National Socialism. Communism. We also heard it at the DNC, i.e., "the State is the ONLY thing to which we all belong. Or else."
To say that something exists is to say that it is "something apart." After all, if it were not apart, then we couldn't know of its existence. If there are no separate things, then there is no possibility of knowledge or the Truth upon which it is dependent.
Mr. Froth's sub-infantile version of omniscience is actually Absolute Stupidity -- literally, not just as insultainment. A thing is only knowable because it exists, and it can only exist if it is "separate."
Let's move on. But not without a wise crack from Pieper that might well apply to the above Chopraesque pneumababble: it derives its clarity "from nothing else than its lack of depth." In short, nothing is that superficial, let alone everything!
Again, we can know the world because 1) it exists, and 2) because we are attracted to it, and thereby drawn out of our frothing little private idahos.
And this ontological openness goes directly to Giussani's more expansive understanding of Reason. The tenured essentially reduce thought to (lower case r) reason, but as we have discussed in the past, a thing isn't true because it is rational but rational because it is true.
For the G-man, Reason "is opened wide to reality, it takes it all in, noting its connections and implications. Reason discourses about reality, seeks to get inside its perceived meaning, moving from one angle to the next, storing everything in its memory and tending to embrace it all."
We must indeed open wide in order to take in the whole existentialada and become sensible to the one cosmos under O.
Is it possible for man to be at home in the Cosmos?
Yes and no.
First of all, think of how that question doesn't arise for other animals, which cannot transcend their immediate environment.
A dog knows nothing whatsoever of a cosmos; or, its cosmos consists of nothing beyond the orderly succession of meals, walks, naps, and the like.
And so long as that pleasurable order is maintained, the dog will have no complaints -- similar to how the grazing 47% have no complaints about Obama.
But a man who is adapted only to his immediate surroundings is hardly a man. Rather, in a very important sense, man is never adapted to the environment, and is constantly trying to break out of it with questions, abstractions, theories, myths, rituals, drugs, etc.
Think of how slaveowners didn't want their slaves to learn how to read, because they didn't want them to even conceive of the wider psychospiritual world beyond the plantation.
Same with the slaves of North Korea, and, to an increasingly shocking extent, the passive American humanoids whose mental horizons don't extend beyond the academic rantations of the left.
No wonder Obama wants to drive literature from the classroom, as it has always been one of the great windows on the wider world.
Then again, if students are just going to be exposed to leftist subhumanities anyway for the sake of "diversity," it hardly matters if they read that kind of wet excrement or Obama's dry executive orders.
Now, sanity, according to Sheed, "involves seeing what is."
That is a fine definition, but the first question a dishonest man -- or the aspiring sophist -- will ask is: is, in relation to what?
And this innocent sounding question is the loophole that has been discovered by the secular left, which allows them to affirm that nobody is insane except for those who believe somebody is.
In other words, the left, in their denial of God as the source and vector of transcendence, has devolved to the infrahuman notion of sanity as nothing more than conformity to the environment (e.g., "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter").
There is no privileged perspective outside this or that environment that permits one to make any objective judgments about sanity as such, because any such judgment will just be another conditioned perspective, undoubtedly rooted in power or self-justification.
Ultimately, we can say that in the absence of God, there can be no such thing as sanity -- including moral sanity. There can be no answers to our incessant "why" questions, and the sooner you stop asking them, the saner you will be. From a Darwinian standpoint, such ultimate questions are pure noise, with no possible answers.
Here is a perfect aphorism by Goethe: "Every epoch which is in the process of retrogression and disintegration is subjective, but all progressive epochs have an objective trend."
Which is why we can state with certainty that self-styled "progressives" are objectively disordered -- or insane if you like.
I don't want to pretend I spent the weekend hanging out with the venerable Goethe. Rather, that quote is from a typically lucid little book by Pieper called Living the Truth.
The book actually consists of two separate works, one on Truth, the other on the Good. But he links the two in such a way that one can see how human goodness is entirely dependent upon truth: ought must be rooted in is, or you will inevitably end up doing what you oughtn't.
As soon as you think about it, it's a little obvious, isn't it? Obama, for example, has done all sorts of things he oughtn't have done. Why? Because he has never been exposed to any Is other than that which he assimilated from his leftist professors in college.
Thus, like so many others who have spent too much time in the looniversity bin, "everything President Obama 'knows' about American history comes from left-wing academics like American University professor Peter Kuznick."
In short, Obama's Is isn't. Not even close.
Pieper sums it up very neatly: "All obligation is based upon being. Reality is the foundation of ethics. The good is that which is in accord with reality."
As such, "he who wishes to know and do the good must turn his gaze upon the objective world of being. Not upon his own 'ideas,' not upon his 'conscience,' not upon 'values,' not upon arbitrarily established 'ideals' and 'models.' He must turn away from [these] and fix his eyes upon reality."
Or, as my good friend Goethe once quipped, "All laws and moral principles may be reduced to one -- the truth."
But this hardly means the infinite is completely unthinkable. Rather, the interpenetration of finite and infinite "accounts for the existence of what we call Mysteries in religion." Mystery is a term of art, not an evasion, much less an unseemly case of furiously deepaking one's chopra in public.
The Raccoon Glishary defines mystery as an orthoparadox, which, translated literally, means "straight-up freaky."
It is analogous to the complementarity principle in quantum physics. When the human mind attempts to visualize the quantum world, an irreducible paradox results in the form of a wave of vacuous new age books that nevertheless sell much better than mine.
Now, just because the quantum world is paradoxical, it doesn't mean you can't know anything about it. To put it inversely, if there is no Absolute, then man's stupidity is infinite, and I couldn't have sold even one copy.
A Mystery is not like "a high wall that we can neither see over nor get around," but rather, more like "a gallery into which we can progress deeper and deeper, though we can never reach the end -- yet every step of our progress is immeasurably satisfying."
Can we get an I-witness?
A Mystery is not a Keep Out! sign but "an invitation to the mind." There is an intrinsic attraction to them -- a subjective correlate to our being in the presence of the Great Attractor -- signaling our proximity to "an inexhaustible well of Truth from which the mind may drink and drink again in the certainty that the well will never run dry, that there will always be water for the mind's thirst."
(This goes directly to the transfinite and hyperdimensional "religious sense" we will soon be discussing, I'll bet.)
You know the wise crack, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink," and then "out of your heart will flow rivers of living water." Can we get a wetness? You bet! Especially those of you in the first few rows.
Again, as with the complementarity principle -- which is much more generalized than the average person realizes -- "any given Mystery resolves itself (for our minds, of course, not in its own reality) into two truths which which we cannot see how to reconcile."
Oh, I can think of any number of orthoparadoxes that arise just from the human condition, in which we are material animals with immaterial spirits.
Well, which one is it then? Animal or spirit? Christianity has always insisted that it is both. Indeed, this may be traced all the way back to Genesis, in which man is a lump of clay in-spired by the Breath of Life.
Any attempt to resolve this orthoparadox -- say, by insisting that man is fundamentally no different from any other animal -- results in a spiritual catastrophe.
At the other extreme is the attempt to "be as God," but the result is the same because the one reduces to the other. In other words, if there is no God, then man is Him, and vice versa.
Or think of how we have an essence that is nevertheless deployed in time, so that our being paradoxically "becomes," and the point of life is to become who you already are.
More generally, I think a bonedry conundrum can be elevated to a thirst-quenching Mystery if we merely invert the cosmos, and put it back right-side up.
If we truly understand that the cosmos is a tree with its nonlocal roots aloft and convenient local branches down below, we suddenly find ourselves "inside" the mystery, instead of being on the outside looking in, or just another prick in the wall.
Sheed mentions several religious mysteries, such as how it is that One can be Three, and vice versa; how Christ can have two natures in one person, or be all God and all man; or how we can possess free will in the face of divine omniscience. One could cite countless others.
I remember a discussion with a distant family member when I was working on my book. Now that I think about it, this was almost exactly eleven years ago, in early 2001. Seems like another lifetome!
Although he was a good-natured, rank-and-file flatlander with no religious instruction, he surprised me, in that he immediately "got" some of the more esoteric and orthoparadoxical elements of the book, and why they had to be that way -- for example, the continuity/discontinuity of the chapters, the inspiraling circularity, and most especially the inability of normal cutandry & wideawake language to contain the Mystery.
I remember explaining to him that the "ultimate answer" was analogous to pi, which he again fully appreciated (probably because he was unburdened by preconceptions, whether scientistic or religious).
Pi is quite definitely and unambiguously the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. And yet, it is irreducibly ambiguous and "transmeasurable," so to speak. It's not that you can't measure it, rather, that you can measure it forever without ever reaching
(all quoted material from Theology and Sanity)
When an irrepressible force such as his meets an implacable heart such as ours, the result is what we call a mystery.
And what is a mystery? It is a necessary consequence of the finite's inexorable attempts to contain the infinite. The infinite is the container, the matrix, the womb, symbolized ♀. Obviously, the contained (symbolized ♂) can never contain that which contains it, although Mary came the closest.
But still we try. Which leads to two big mistakes, the first of which is imagining one has succeeded. This obviously occurs in such anti-intellectual doctrines as atheism, metaphysical Darwinism, and scientism, but also in any ideology more generally. An ideologue always imagines his little ♂ can fill the big mamamatrix of ♀.
In the above case, ♀ (the infinite container) is reduced to ♂ (the finite). The opposite error is to elevate ♂ to ♀, which is what many unreflective and unphilosophical religious types do. It's not nearly as damaging as the first error, unless it is backed by state violence, as in the Islamic world. To paraphrase Sheed, it is always possible to be ignorant and virtuous, even if ignorance is not a virtue.
But in either case, whenever ♂ is divorced from ♀ and then assumes state power, the result is hell on earth, whether in the Islamic world or in the atheistic paradises of communism and National Socialism. Obama's form of socialism is just a slow-motion version of the same psychopneumatic pathology.
Speaking of which, I want to call on Sheed's Theology and Sanity to further explicate this felicitous conjunction of finite, infinite, and mystery. I don't remember what he said about it, but I remember being impressed with his clarity. And sanity.
First of all, it is a matter of intellect and the proper functioning thereof (or again, of sanity). It is the task of intellect "to explore Reality and make its home in it." And we all want a happy home.
But I can't think of a time in history when there has been such a disparity in spiritual wealth, with so many Americans living in the undignified hovels constructed in the public education system prick by prick, others living in grand mansions not built by hands over the centuries. This should be intolerable in a democracy.
The problem begins with a deeply anti-intellectual school system that, instead of nurturing the intellect, denies and extinguishes it. Afterwards, upon attaining chronological adulthood, the only task that remains is getting these ciphers to their polling places in order to ratify their masters and wait for their goody bag from the state.
"The result is that when any matter arises which is properly the job of the intellect, then either nothing gets done at all, or else the imagination leaps in and does it instead." This latter is the province of academia and journalism, when these two have devolved to being tools of the state.
Imagination is fine, so long as it knows its subordinate place in the psyche. But if it doesn't know its place, then it easily dominates the intellect. When this occurs, the imagination puffs itself up with an unearned and worthless intellectual pride. You know the type. It's one of the reasons leftists are so annoying.
So, "imagination plays a part in the mind's affairs totally out of proportion to its merits, so out of proportion to its merits... as to suggest some long-standing derangement in man's nature" (Sheed).
One is tempted here to agree with the left that this is a malady that is especially virulent in females, who are so captive to their imaginations that they will fall for the first politician who offers them sex without consequences, whereas white males are somehow immune to their frivolous and imagination-infused appeals to "free" contraception and the like. But this is not what we believe.
Rather, the Fall is general, and there is no exemption for race or gender or class. Furthermore, the temptation is always there, and we must resist imagination's constant attempts to saturate our psychopneumatic space with some kind of finite formula. The "eleventh commandment" of Raccoons is that we are forbidden under any circumstance to deepak the chopra.
Now, God, the infinite, is unimaginable. This is axiomatic, and if people could just remember it (i.e., the Second Commandment), it would keep them out of a lot of trouble. This includes atheists, who, when they "disprove" their idea of God, imagine they have disproved the unimaginable. But this is impossible, obviously.
However, to say that God is unimaginable is not to say he is inconceivable.
Here again is where the intellect comes in, because the intellect routinely deals with unimaginable realities that are nevertheless conceivable, such as the square root of negative one, or the unvisualizable world of quantum physics, or the big bang. If these evoke a picture in your head, the picture is wrong, just a displacement from the ponderable world of matter.
Thus, "to complain that a spiritual thing is unimaginable would be like complaining that the air is invisible." Air is merely "beyond the reach of one particular sense, namely sight, because it lacks color." And "Spirit is beyond the reach of all the senses (and so of imagination) because it lacks all material qualities" (Sheed).
However, like the wind, you can certainly see, or feel, or hear, the effects of the spirit, i.e., the windy siddhis.
So: "the reality of any spiritual statement must be tested by the intellect, not by the imagination." Yes: test those spirits! For many of them are just demons, zombies, wannabes, professors, etc.
Sheed makes an important point about faith, that it essentially asks us to accept certain saving truths that an intellect "grown flabby with disuse" might be inclined to reject: "Thinking is very hard, and imagining is very easy, and we are very lazy. We have fallen into the habit of using imagination as a crutch, and our intellects have almost lost the habit of walking" (Sheed).
But once you begin engaging in your daily verticalesthenics and gymnostics, you start to lose the flab. And "once the intellect is doing its own work properly, it can use the imagination most fruitfully; and the imagination will find new joy in the service of a vital intellect" (ibid.).
Then, brother, you've got a happy home in your head, with a harmonious and swingin' relationship between ♂ to ♀.
Fight fight fight it with all of your might / Chances are that some heavenly star-spangled night / We'll find out just as sure as we live / Somethin's gotta give / Somethin's gotta give / Somethin's gotta give
Hmm. How about Adam?
To paraphrase Rahner, this is a dynamic transcendentality which doesn't merely exist but takes place. Thus, the God <--> man encounter is an event; this event not only requires history to play out, but ultimately is what we call history.
This is an important consideration if we are to exercise due diligence and examine Christianity all the way down to the foundations, because "something historical" -- since it is relative and fleeting -- "seems by definition incapable of making absolute claims of any kind" (ibid.).
Furthermore, "if the whole history of creation is already borne by God's self-communication in this very creation, then there does not seem to be anything else which can take place on God's part" (ibid.).
You know, I created this endlessly fascinating cosmos, I brought you into existence from nothing, I gave you a mind and a conscience and women and grog. What else do you want from me? Immortality?
Well, now that you mention it...
Clearly, history itself is the history of transcendentality, which is why animals have no history. Rather, they have only genes. Which is what evolutionary psychologists and sociobiologists would like us to believe about man.
But in reality, man's discovery of evolution is a part of, and embedded in, his prior transcendentality.
To put it in plain english, our transcendence contains Darwinism. The converse is impossible and quite literally unthinkable, for if we are contained by Darwinism, there is no conceivable exit from that closed løøp, nor would we have any understanding whatsoever of what contains Darwinism, i.e. Spirit. As Petey says, if Truth doesn't exist, man could never know it.
The bottom line is that "wherever we really find a being of absolute transcendence... there we find a man with freedom, with self-determination, and with an immediate boundary with absolute mystery," with O. If you know about O, then you're a man. And if you don't know, or have forgotten or denied O, then you've only sawed off the branch that connects you to reality. Nice work, assoul.
It reminds me a little of being an American citizen. America is the only nation defined by a transcendental ideal, so we don't care if you're black, white, male, female, rich, poor, whatever. If you believe the ideal, then you're in: congratulations, you've exited the wilderness of nature. Let us be the first to welcome you to your bewilderness adventure in history!
(Suffice it to say we're speaking of the ideal here, not the primitive rebarbarization of the reactionary left.)
This is such an important point, because it again goes to the whole project of the left, which cuts at the very root of what man is. It goes lightyears beyond the noisy buzz of politics, all the way down to ʘntology, and beyond!
But at any rate, wherever this transcendentality is absent, "what we call 'man' in a philosophical and Christian and theological sense did not exist, however similar this being may have been in other respects."
Thus, if you're an animal who penetrates into the transcendent -- and so long as you can afford the $1.50 initiation fee -- then we don't care if you have a tusk, a tail, a trunk, or a tree for a house, you're a Raccoon, so you're in. Of course, thus far only a Homo sapiens with a public school diploma fulfills the criteria, but you never know.
To paraphorize G.C. Lichtenberg, the cosmos is a mirror. Therefore, when an ape looks in, no apostle looks out. In fact, trolls who are on the threshold of consciousness will dimly recognize that the same holds true of these posts: when a such a prehuman looks in, no Raccoon looks out. Your inane comments can only confirm this deeper truth.
So, we have a history. And so too does God. We call it "salvation history." Salvation history is the chronicle -- chronos meaning time -- of the ahistorical object (or subject) as it relates to time and history. From our side, it manifests in encounters with the self-revealing God; you could even say that history as such is a necessary artifact of God-consciousness.
In this way -- and only in this way -- history becomes the cure for the problems created by history. At the same time, man attempts to cure the problems created by man in history, but it seems that the only final solution is for God himself to "become the problem," i.e., to incarnate.
Of the latter, Rahner writes that "Not until the full and unsurpassable event of the historical self-objectification of God's self-communication to the world in Jesus Christ do we have an event which... fundamentally and absolutely precludes any historical corruption or any distorted interpretation in the further history of categorical revelation and of false religion."
Theoretically, of course. Man is still free to mess things up.
A housekeeping gnote: our next topic of discussion will be the writings of Luigi Giussani, beginning with The Religious Sense. I mention this because there may be some of you out there who want to participate in a readalong on the cosmic bus. This is one of those rare books which I wanted to reread immediately, which is what I'm now doing, so I probably won't begin posting on it until some time next week.
However, I don't want to just leave it at that, as if we'd never met. I need some closure. Therefore, a brief wrap-up of Foundations of Christian Faith, if I can manage it. I'll just flip through and hone in on some of the things I highlighted.
"But in reality freedom is first of all the subject's being responsible for himself.... Ultimately he [the subject] does not do something, but does himself."
Freedom is selfhood lived, just as selfhood is freedom lived.
Painful, I know, but imagine an alternate universe with an educational system in which such spiritually healthy attitudes were inculcated from kindergarten on. That's how they do it at my son's private religious school: he knows that every moment confronts him with choices.
As things stand, the left employs a bait-and-switch tactic to rob people of their freedom-slack. For when the state bestows its free stuff upon the grazing 47%, it absolves them of responsibility and thereby disenfreedoms them.
Such a strategy also destroys religion at the root, for "freedom is the capacity for the eternal." In a horizontalized world there is no finality and therefore no meaningful freedom.
In fact, just this weekend I read a quote along these lines by the father of the moonbat educational establishment, John Dewey. For those with ears to hear, his advice is truly demonic:
"To abandon the pursuit of reality and the search for absolute and immutable value can seem like a sacrifice. But this renunciation is the condition for entering upon a vocation of greater vitality," i.e., social control engineered by the benevolent and all-wise state.
This is the very opposite of freedom, and it is why we dread the left. For "Freedom is the event of something eternal," and we are perpetually "forming the eternity which we ourselves are and are becoming."
Nor is freedom conceivable in the absence of God, for to understand freedom is to realize the absolute:
"For wherever there is no such infinite horizon, such an existent is locked up within itself in a definite and intrinsic limitation... and for this reason it is not free either."
No God, no freedom. Simple as. The left doesn't have to murder God directly. Rather, they accomplish the identical goal through the backdoor by simply eroding our freedom.
The leftist lives in hell and naturally wants you to live there as well. What do we mean by this stinkbombast?
Since a "free" rejection of God is nevertheless "based on a transcendental and necessary 'yes' to God in transcendence, and otherwise could not take place," it "entails a free self-destruction of the subject."
In other words, the leftist freely chooses hell for himself, but then imposes it on everyone else. Only he is free to choose, which ultimately results in only the man at the top being truly free.
I'm sure Obama has no idea that the exercise of his fake freedom redounds to the loss of your real freedoms.
This is all strictly orthoparadoxical: "For every 'no' always derives the life which it has from a 'yes,' because the 'no' always becomes intelligible only in light of the 'yes.'" In short, no Yes, no No.
Obviously, an explicit No to God requires an implicit Yes. Same with freedom, truth, and any other transcendental reality: no doesn't really mean no.
Rahner's whole discussion of freedom is in the context of capital G Guilt, and I found it to be quite helpful in that regard.
As it so happens, my study of Rahner was partly motivated by a desire to more deeply understand this whole question of guilt and redemption, for redemption is unnecessary if man isn't Guilty.
But it seems that Guilt and Freedom are necessary partners so long as we exist "outside" paradise, so to speak. We are condemned to freedom, as the existentialists say, and we are bound to misuse it, as Genesis says.
As Rahner expresses it, "a free subject continues to be threatened by himself," and there is no way we can eliminate this permanent threat with some sort of ultimate act, short of suicide.
Which again goes to the left's perversion of this principle: "the Utopian idea that a world functioning in perfect harmony can be created by man himself only leads inevitably to still greater violence and greater cruelty..."
You might say that original sin results in the left's extremely unoriginal solution to it. It works, of course, at the cost of killing the host. You know the old wise crack: "the operation was a success, but the patient died."